Feb 13, 2020 - Health

AOC concedes Sanders may have to compromise on Medicare for All

Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders rally in Durham, New Hampshire on Feb. 10. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) conceded Thursday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' signature Medicare for All proposal would face congressional roadblocks if he was elected president, telling HuffPost: “A president can’t wave a magic wand and pass any legislation they want."

Why it matters: Ocasio-Cortez is a vocal proponent of Medicare for All and one of Sanders' highest-profile surrogates. She told HuffPost: "The worst-case scenario? We compromise deeply and we end up getting a public option. Is that a nightmare? I don’t think so."

  • More moderate 2020 candidates like Pete Buttigieg have faced criticism from the left on their health care proposals, despite endorsing a public option. Buttigieg has framed his "Medicare for All Who Want It" as a more practical pathway to Medicare for All.
  • Ocasio-Cortez argued that even if Medicare for All is unrealistic in Sanders' first term, having an ambitious progressive platform is still important to help push the party further left.

Where it stands: Out of the 2020 Democratic candidates, only Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support Medicare for All.

  • All other 2020 Democrats support plans that allow Americans to keep private insurance unless they want to choose coverage from a public plan.
  • The health care industry, particularly hospitals, opposes a public option almost as fiercely as it opposes single-payer — and would fight it in Congress with just as much help from Republicans, according to Axios' Sam Baker.

Go deeper: Democrats like both Medicare for All and a public option

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What Iowa and New Hampshire tell us about Medicare for All

Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Health care was voters’ top issue in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and it benefitted Sen. Bernie Sanders as well as his more moderate rivals.

The big picture: Sanders has emerged as a national front-runner thanks in part to a base that’s deeply committed to his Medicare for All plan, even as polling data indicate that more moderate ideas like a public option have a broader base of support.

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - Health

40% of Iowa caucusgoers said health care was their top priority

Bernie Sanders at his caucus night party in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Iowa Democrats reported Monday that their biggest priorities were beating President Trump and health care — but the meltdown of their election reporting systems left their presidential choices unresolved.

Why it matters: We've been writing for months that Democrats have a major choice ahead, either picking an advocate of Medicare for All — and siding with the plan that's less popular with the rest of the country — or a public option advocate.

Medicare for All is dividing unions across the country

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Unions across the country are at odds over Medicare for All, with some saying it would free them up to focus on wages and working conditions, while others argue that the health benefits they've already won are better, Politico reports.

The big picture: The fight reflects the larger battle over Medicare for All, but is particularly acute in union-heavy states like California, New York and Michigan. This has all come to a head in Nevada, after the Culinary Workers Union slammed Medicare for All and didn't endorse any of the candidates, providing a portrait of how divisive the issue is within one of the Democratic party's most loyal institutions.

Go deeper ... Medicare for All: Where the Democratic candidates stand